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Switzerland & France: Lake Geneva, Annecy & Valleys of the Alps

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Cycle easy routes on this bike tour into the Swiss and French Alps, following the Rhône and Isère rivers to Lakes Geneva, Annecy, and Bourget.

Guided Biking

  • Daily Mileage: 7 - 41|
  • Group Size: 20
Activity Easy
Easy
E-Bikes Available
E-Bikes Available
Airplane
Air Package Available
People
Guided Group Tour

Starting From

10-day Bike Vacation + Air Package

$4,995

7-day Bike Vacation Only

$3,995

Per person, double occupancy

Switzerland & France: Lake Geneva, Annecy & Valleys of the Alps

Ride with ease amid the legendary Alps, a cyclist’s dream. Discover the best kept secrets of Switzerland’s Valais canton and France’s Rhône -Alpes region as you follow mostly flat routes along the Rhône and Isère rivers to three of the area’s most stunning lakes – Geneva, Annecy, and Bourget. Around you, snow-capped peaks soar to the heavens, their profiles reflected in shimmering lakes. Charming villages slope down gentle hills. Medieval cities like Annecy and Chambéry nestle in deep valleys. Here, the air is clean, the farms and orchards are bursting with life, local wines and farm-fresh cuisine is plentiful and solid-rock massifs point to one breathtaking vista after another. Whoever said bike tours in the French and Swiss Alps were reserved for the strongest of cyclists hadn’t traveled with VBT. Join us!

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with some moderate hills and is ideal for beginners and experienced cyclists. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available.

  • Daily Mileage: 7 - 41|
  • Group Size: 20
Activity Easy Easy
Cycling
Bar Graph Beginner - Experienced
Cyclists
Vehicle Support Vehicle
Support

Tour Highlights

  • Cycle well-paved bike paths amid stunning alpine beauty is France and Switzerland
  • Pedal along the three major lakes of the Rhône-Alpes region – Geneva, Annecy and Bourget – delighting in bike paths along the Rhône and Isère Rivers
  • Savor Swiss and French cuisine and wine to fuel and enhance your journey, from fondues and fendant to coq au vin and Pinot Noir
  • Ride along the shores of crystalline alpine lakes and the banks of coursing rivers as the magnificent Alps surround you
  • Stroll the atmospheric medieval Old Towns of Annecy and Chambéry, grand cultural capitals of once-mighty French kingdoms
  • Savor a two-night stay in a grand French château, built in 1450 by a chivalrous noble family

Climate Information

Temperatures

Average High /
Low Temperature (°F):

Apr55º/33º

May64º/41º

Jun70º/46º

Jul75º/48º

Aug74º/48º

Sep66º/43º

Oct59º/37º

Average
Precipitation:

Apr3.5 in

May4.8 in

Jun5.1 in

Jul4.7 in

Aug5.0 in

Sep4.1 in

Oct4.6 in

What's Included

Bike Vacation + Air Package

Bike Vacation Only

Roundtrip international airfare Check
Transfers to and from international airport Check
One night in Chamonix (FR) and one night in Lyon (FR) in conveniently located hotels with breakfasts included Check
6 nights in fine hotels and a French château Check Check
12 meals: 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 5 dinners Check Check

Tour Bikes

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Road Bicycle (Carbon frame)

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Step-Through (Mixte Hybrid) Comfort Bicycle

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Step-Over (Diamond) Comfort Bicycle

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Electric-Assisted Bicycle (E-bike)

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Biking Packages Include:

Custom VBT Bike and Helmet

Two Local, Bilingual Trip Leaders

Vehicle Support

Luggage Transfers

Ride with GPS and Daily Route Notes

Welcome Reception

Facilitated Cultural Experiences

Your Choice of VBT Branded Gear for Your Adventure

Itinerary

Fri, May 14 to Sun, May 23 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Depart home for Switzerland. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Upon arrival at Geneva International Airport, a representative holding a VBT sign meets you as you exit the baggage-claim area. Please note that there may be an additional wait time if there are other guests arriving within the same time frame. A transfer is provided to your Chamonix hotel, an approximate 1 ½ hour drive. The remainder of the day is at your leisure (no meals included).

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our representative know by calling or sending a text message to +33 (6) 16 56 05 71. Our drivers are generally able to wait for up to one hour from the time your flight lands, after which you would be responsible for your own transfer. You may also contact Allianz Global Assistance to advise of your delay and they will contact our transfer service.

If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 4:00 p.m., in which case you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

VBT provides City Information with recommendations of what to see and do during your stay.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you fly in earlier than the scheduled dates, transportation from the airport will be at your own expense.

Accommodation: Hotel Le Morgane, Chamonix, France
Alternate Hotel: Hotel Le Refuge des Aiglons, Chamonix, France

Enjoy your breakfast this morning and a last stroll in Chamonix. At 12:00 noon board our private shuttle to Switzerland. Make sure you have lunch before departing. And remember that in French Chamonix, the local currency is the euro while in Swiss Lavey-les-Bains, the local currency is the Swiss franc.

The shuttle will be parked just outside your Chamonix hotel and will have a VBT sign. If you brought your own saddle or pedals, carry them on with you and hand them to your trip leaders when you meet them later. They will welcome you at the hotel reception on your arrival in Lavey-les-Bains at approximately 2:00 p.m. Your rooms may not be ready until 3:00 p.m. You are welcome to store your luggage with the reception desk.

All guests meet at 2:00 p.m. in the lobby for a safety and bike-fitting session with your trip leaders. Your biking clothes are not required to attend this meeting. By session’s end, your rooms will be ready, and you will have time to settle in and change into your biking clothes. Later, enjoy a warm-up ride on country roads through charming Swiss villages. The most important is Saint-Maurice. Its abbey is known throughout Christianity, founded in the year 515 on the spot where the relic of martyr Maurice were kept. Still today, it is a key stop on the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. You pause to visit the basilica, the catacombs and the amazing Treasure, which features exceptional examples of medieval goldsmith’s art.

This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel Swiss Chalet bar and restaurant, savoring specialties of the Valais canton.

Today’s Ride Choice:
Cumulative Distance Range: 14.5 km (9 miles)
Afternoon
Warm-up: 14.5 km (9 miles)

What to Expect: The warm-up ride will give you the opportunity to become familiar with your bike as you ride country roads with little traffic. There will be an occasional uphill climb, and the ride will take you through small charming Swiss villages.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel des Bains, Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After a hearty European breakfast, set out on the tranquil Route du Rhône bike path, following the course of the Rhône upriver. As you get underway, you leave the steep jagged cliffs of the Dent de Morcles behind. These dramatic rocky slopes mark the westernmost reaches of the Bernese Alps, dropping precipitously into the Rhône Valley. Before you, the exhilarating vistas of Switzerland’s majestic and towering range opens up.

Near Evionnaz, traverse a serene nature reserve beloved by the residents of the Valais canton. Then you pass Martigny, a stunning mountain village where roads from France and Italy converge, and pedal into a valley blanketed with lush vineyards. The Valais is Switzerland’s third largest wine region. Some of the classified Grand Crus of Sion – like the Fendant and the Syrah – may sound familiar to you.

Your ride along the river is leisurely and never dull. You cycle past small villages on the gentle slopes of the valleys and spin past farms and orchards of apples, apricots, pears, cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Even the legendary Valais headwind, which caresses the valley from late morning to evening during good weather, cannot tarnish this incredibly scenic ride into this hidden corner of Switzerland.

As you approach Sion, the capital of the Valais canton, the two towering rock bastions of Tourbillons and Valère greet you from their lofty perches. There’ll be time to stroll the pedestrian streets of the Old Town, rich in culture and history and embellished with stone fountains and lively cafés. After lunch on your own, you shuttle back to your hotel, where you have time to rest in the shade of huge sequoia trees, walk on the trails of the landscaped park, or soak in the thermal pools.

Dinner is at the hotel’s restaurant tonight, where you can select your favorites directly from a large buffet spread.

Today’s Ride Choice:
Cumulative Distance Range: 41 km (25.5 miles)
Morning
Lavey to Sion: 41 km (25.5 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride is easy and flat, almost entirely on a well-paved bike path. The headwind that generally starts blowing around mid-morning up the valley in good weather may slow down your pace.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel des Bains, Lavey-les-Bains (Switzerland)
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, you cycle out of Saint-Maurice into the Chablais region, the spectacular alpine area straddling Switzerland and France. Your route again follows the Rhône River, pointing you toward Lake Geneva. As you ride out of the village, you may glimpse the sharp, soaring peaks of the Dents du Midi chain. Despite your mountainous surroundings, today’s route is very relaxed, tracing a pleasant valley on well-paved bike paths and passing Swiss chalets, manicured gardens and postcard-perfect ponds.

At Le Bouveret, just before the river pours into Lake Geneva, your route gently bends right onto the Rhône bridge. Here, you ride into the shaded wetlands of Les Grangettes. This peaceful nature reserve hosts a profusion of biodiversity, including many migratory birds. This morning’s pleasant spin ends at the southern tip of Lake Geneva in Villeneuve, or New Town, which in fact boasts a charming Old Town of cobbled streets and inviting cafés – the ideal place for lunch on your own. After, you cycle or shuttle to Vevey.

If you choose to ride, follow a rolling lakeside route, passing the historic Chillon Castle and Montreux on the way. You might pause in this popular resort town on Lake Geneva to admire elegant villas and lovely gardens – and to stop at Place du Marché, where a statue of Freddie Mercury gazes out over the lake. Once you arrive in Vevey, browse cobbled lanes as the sweet scent of chocolate wafts from the numerous confectionary shops. Then continue by shuttle into France and the picturesque village of Talloires, hugging the shores of scenic Lake Annecy. Settle in to your hotel here, a hidden gem away from the crowds and set beautifully on the water with magnificent views of the Massif des Bauges to the west and La Tournette and Col de Forclaz to the east. The sublime Saint Germain abbey and chapel perches high above on a distant hillside.

Dinner is at the elegant hotel restaurant, a delicious meal of French specialties.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 29.5 to 41.5 km (18 to 25.5 miles)
Morning
Lavey to Villeneuve: 29.5 km (18 miles)
Villeneuve to Vevey moderate: 12 km (7.5 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride is easy and mostly follows a bike path until Villeneuve. Two miles are on unpaved terrain. When the weather is good, a mid-morning to evening headwind blows up the valley and can slow down the ride. From Villeneuve to Montreux, the route is a bike lane on a regularly trafficked rolling road. From Montreux to Vevey offers easy riding on a scenic bike path along Lake Geneva.

Accommodation: Cottage Bise, Talloires (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast begin your ride by cycling south from your hotel in the Haute-Savoie region. Your focus is the breathtaking Lake Annecy – Europe’s cleanest lake thanks to protection measures enacted in the 1960s – and its namesake city. Your loop follows a well-paved bike path past the staggering sheer cliffs of the Bauges Mountains that seem to surge dramatically out of the waters. Keep your eyes out, too, for the Château de Duingt, perched on a tiny islet linked to the mainland by a causeway. It is not open to visitors, but worth a photo stop.

As you approach the city of Annecy, follow the sign to the Paccard Bell Foundry if you wish. Over seven generations, this family business has cast more than 120,000 bells for institutions all over the world, including the bells that ring out from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In 1950 and 1951, it cast 57 replicas of the Liberty Bell and distributed one to each of the then 48 US states as tributes to the American role in the liberation of Europe during World War II. The largest bell they’ve made is the 66,000-pound World Peace Bell, which hangs in Newport, Kentucky. It rings every day at 12:05 p.m. so as not to drown out the city’s other noontime bells.

Later, arrive in historic Annecy, called the “Pearl of the French Alps” for its stunning setting between mountains and lakes. There’ll be time to explore its pedestrian streets lined with charming canals, bridges and archways that might bring Venice to mind. The Old Town is full of unique charms and historic buildings. Admire the Palais de l’Isle, a 12th-century prison on an islet in the River Thiou, the Château d’Annecy, the 16th-century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre and the Pont des Amours, the Lover’s Bridge. Savor lunch on your own in an inviting café, perhaps watching swans glide on the river, and enjoy a crème glacée – locally made ice cream – for dessert.

Shuttle back to the hotel, or join today’s longer option that completes a circumference around the lake. Pass a popular lake beach, perhaps dipping your toes in the crystal-clear water, and several lakeside villages steeped in charm. In the distance, catch sight of the Aravis Mountains, famous for the hairpin turns and steep bends featured on the Tour de France.

Later, relax at the swimming pool, take a dip in the lake, enjoy a drink at the Boat Bar or treat yourself to the hotel spa. Tonight, stroll into historic Talloires for dinner on your own. You might try a fondue or Raclette with the famous quality cheeses of Haute-Savoie and match it with a local wine, like Chignin or Apremont.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 27 to 38 km (17 to 24 miles)
Morning
Talloires to Annecy: 27 km (17 miles)
Afternoon
Annecy to Talloires: 11 km (7 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride follows a well paved road and bike path. There is an initial steep downhill soon after Talloires, then it is all flat to Annecy. The area, especially before Annecy, is very popular and bikers may encounter skaters and walkers on the path. The afternoon ride is easy, but it can be bothered by the number of bikers. In the villages, attention must be paid to cars.

Accommodation: Cottage Bise, Talloires (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast

After a hearty French breakfast, say goodbye to your hosts and set out on one of the most beautiful rides of the region. Leaving the southern tip of Lake Annecy, you cycle along a quiet, smooth bike path as the Bauges Range rises up on one side and the Beaufortain soars on the other. In the Chaise River Valley, enjoy majestic views of the Faverges Castle with its red-roof cylindrical stone tower. The Col Tamie’ has the largest fort to have been built on the edge of the Alps by France, while gorges and caves in the distance tell that the region has been inhabited by man since the Neolithic Age.

After a slight climb at Ugine, you leave the Haute-Savoie and meet the Isère River, which you follow to Albertville and Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère. Gateway to some of the best international ski areas of the Alps, Albertville hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics. As you ride, keep your eyes open for the town’s colorful totem sporting colorful signs that point to the peaks and altitudes climbed by Tour de France riders! Your trip leaders guide you to a shaded meadow by a small scenic pond, the perfect spot for the picnic they’ve arranged. After lunch, continue cycling along a tranquil country road into fertile farmlands. Then shuttle into the rich wine-growing region of the Combe de Savoie.

You settle into your elegant French château, then visit the cellar and savor a wine tasting before a delicious dinner overseen by your gracious hosts. It’s the perfect end of a beautiful day and an ideal venue to sample the region’s finest wines.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 21.5 to 66 km (13 to 40.5 miles)
Morning
Talloires to Sainte-Hélène: 44.5 km (27.5 miles)
Afternoon
Sainte-Hélène to Aiton: 21.5km (13 miles)

What to Expect: With the exception of a short climb along a quiet and well-paved bike path, today’s ride is easy. The last stretch in the afternoon follows the sides of a mountain and is slightly rolling. All in all, it is a very enjoyable day of cycling.

Accommodation: Château des Comtes de Challes, Challes-les-Eaux (France)
Alternate Hotel: Château de Candie, Chambéry, France
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today promises another ride into stunning cultural and natural beauty. You follow the course of the fast-flowing Leysse River, surrounded by hills and mountains, into picturesque Chambéry, boasting a rich history as the capital of the Kingdom of Savoy from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The Château des Ducs de Savoie still dominates the cityscape, nestled in a maze of medieval alleyways in the city center. You pause for lunch on your own here, taking time to also admire the 15th- and 16th-century estates along the shop-lined rue Croix-d’Or.

Cycle out of Chambéry along an easy and scenic bike path, meandering through pretty parks and bucolic valleys. As you ride, you skirt the base of Mont de Nivolet; the 72-foot white cross watching over you from above can only be reached by foot and is linked to a local legend. Your scenic route past the soaring rock walls of the Bauges Massif delivers you to the shores of the popular Lake du Bourget, France’s largest and deepest natural glacial lake. Avid riders can continue to the resort and former spa town of Aix-les-Bains, with a history dating back to the Roman Empire.

Your return ride follows much of the same route, veering away to take in some of the sleepy villages of the valley. As you ride, you have views of the distant Tarantaise peaks, some reaching more than 11,000 feet. The Col du Galibier in the sunny Maurienne valley with its 8,681 feet ranks with the Col de l’Iseran as one of the highest mountain passes in France. There stands a monument to Henri Desgranges, who initiated the Tour de France cycle race in 1903. Epic climbs are sure come to mind as you experience a bit of the captivating cycling of the Alps without the hills.

Back at your château, there’ll be time to relax by the swimming pool and prepare for a final festive dinner featuring French specialties of the region.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 10 to 45.5 km (6 to 28 miles)
Morning
Challes to Lake Bourget to Chambéry: 35.5 km (22 miles)
Afternoon
Chambéry to Challes: 10 km (6 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride follows an easy bike path along the Leysse River through shaded parks into the historic center of Chambéry. The route cuts through an industrial area north of town, then leads to the shores of Lake du Bouget. It loops back partly on the same route, partly on a slightly rolling route through sleepy villages.

Accommodation: Château des Comtes de Challes, Challes-les-Eaux (France)
Alternate Hotel: Château de Candie, Chambéry, France
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Important: Flight departures from Lyon prior to 2:30 p.m. are not recommended; those departing earlier must make transfer arrangements at their own expense from the last hotel in Chambéry/Challes-les-Eaux (approximately1 ½ hours).

Transfer to your hotel in Lyon, an elegant and centrally located 5-star hotel, arriving at about 10:30 a.m. VBT provides City Information that includes information and recommendations for what to see and do in Lyon. Use the rest of the day to relax. Or begin exploring Lyon, following your whims and desires either on foot or using the city’s network of buses and trams and the subway. Your hotel is located on the Presqu’île, the peninsula surrounded by the two rivers, in the major shopping and partly pedestrian area, near museums and picturesque streets. Please note that hotel check-in is 2:00 p.m., but the hotel will try to have rooms available earlier if possible and will store your luggage if needed. If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip Extension to Nice, you will remain at this hotel for three nights.

Accommodation: Hotel Carlton Lyon MGallery by Sofitel, Lyon (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast*, transfer to the Lyon airport for your flight home. VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your Transfer Reminder. The transfer is prearranged with the reception desk and is prepaid by VBT**.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Sun, May 16 to Sat, May 22 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Your tour starts at 2:00 p.m. at the Grand Hotel des Bain in Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland (Phone +41 (0)24 486 15 15). Your trip leaders will meet you in the lobby wearing VBT staff garments. If your arrival at our Swiss hotel will be later than 2:00 p.m. or if you are delayed, please call the hotel and ask the front desk to pass the message on to your VBT trip leaders.

Travel recommendations to your Lavey-les-Bains hotel:
•Rail: Take a direct train from Geneva airport to St-Maurice (note that there are several cities with a similar name; make sure you choose “St-Maurice” with the hyphen when you buy your ticket online). The train journey lasts about 1 ½ hours for a direct train, and approximately two hours for train with connections. The cost is approximately 50 USD if you buy your ticket well in advance. From the St-Maurice railway station a bus shuttle takes you to Lavey-les-Bains/Grand Hotel des Bains in about 10 minutes.

•VBT private coach: If you prefer to board our private coach from Chamonix (reserved for the Air Package guests), Please let VBT know 60 days prior to departure. Make sure you are outside our Chamonix hotel at 12:00 noon. Remember that in Chamonix you are in France, where the local currency is the euro. In Geneva, St-Maurice and Lavey-les-Bains you are in Switzerland, where the local currency is the Swiss Franc.

No matter how you travel to Lavey-les-Bains, please have lunch before you meet your VBT trip leaders.

Your room at Grand Hotel des Bains may not be ready until 3:00 p.m. You are welcome to store your luggage with the reception desk.

VBT highly recommends flying to Switzerland or France at least one day before the tour begins; this allows you to rest and recover from jet lag before you begin sightseeing and cycling.

The shuttle will be parked just outside your Chamonix hotel and will have a VBT sign. If you brought your own saddle or pedals, carry them on with you and hand them to your trip leaders when you meet them later. They will welcome you at the hotel reception on your arrival in Lavey-les-Bains at approximately 2:00 p.m. Your rooms may not be ready until 3:00 p.m. You are welcome to store your luggage with the reception desk.

All guests meet at 2:00 p.m. in the lobby for a safety and bike-fitting session with your trip leaders. Your biking clothes are not required to attend this meeting. By session’s end, your rooms will be ready, and you will have time to settle in and change into your biking clothes. Later, enjoy a warm-up ride on country roads through charming Swiss villages. The most important is Saint-Maurice. Its abbey is known throughout Christianity, founded in the year 515 on the spot where the relic of martyr Maurice were kept. Still today, it is a key stop on the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. You pause to visit the basilica, the catacombs and the amazing Treasure, which features exceptional examples of medieval goldsmith’s art.

This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel Swiss Chalet bar and restaurant, savoring specialties of the Valais canton.

Today’s Ride Choice:
Cumulative Distance Range: 14.5 km (9 miles)
Afternoon
Warm-up: 14.5 km (9 miles)

What to Expect: The warm-up ride will give you the opportunity to become familiar with your bike as you ride country roads with little traffic. There will be an occasional uphill climb, and the ride will take you through small charming Swiss villages.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel des Bains, Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland
Included Meals: Dinner

After a hearty European breakfast, set out on the tranquil Route du Rhône bike path, following the course of the Rhône upriver. As you get underway, you leave the steep jagged cliffs of the Dent de Morcles behind. These dramatic rocky slopes mark the westernmost reaches of the Bernese Alps, dropping precipitously into the Rhône Valley. Before you, the exhilarating vistas of Switzerland’s majestic and towering range opens up.

Near Evionnaz, traverse a serene nature reserve beloved by the residents of the Valais canton. Then you pass Martigny, a stunning mountain village where roads from France and Italy converge, and pedal into a valley blanketed with lush vineyards. The Valais is Switzerland’s third largest wine region. Some of the classified Grand Crus of Sion – like the Fendant and the Syrah – may sound familiar to you.

Your ride along the river is leisurely and never dull. You cycle past small villages on the gentle slopes of the valleys and spin past farms and orchards of apples, apricots, pears, cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Even the legendary Valais headwind, which caresses the valley from late morning to evening during good weather, cannot tarnish this incredibly scenic ride into this hidden corner of Switzerland.

As you approach Sion, the capital of the Valais canton, the two towering rock bastions of Tourbillons and Valère greet you from their lofty perches. There’ll be time to stroll the pedestrian streets of the Old Town, rich in culture and history and embellished with stone fountains and lively cafés. After lunch on your own, you shuttle back to your hotel, where you have time to rest in the shade of huge sequoia trees, walk on the trails of the landscaped park, or soak in the thermal pools.

Dinner is at the hotel’s restaurant tonight, where you can select your favorites directly from a large buffet spread.

Today’s Ride Choice:
Cumulative Distance Range: 41 km (25.5 miles)
Morning
Lavey to Sion: 41 km (25.5 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride is easy and flat, almost entirely on a well-paved bike path. The headwind that generally starts blowing around mid-morning up the valley in good weather may slow down your pace.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel des Bains, Lavey-les-Bains (Switzerland)
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, you cycle out of Saint-Maurice into the Chablais region, the spectacular alpine area straddling Switzerland and France. Your route again follows the Rhône River, pointing you toward Lake Geneva. As you ride out of the village, you may glimpse the sharp, soaring peaks of the Dents du Midi chain. Despite your mountainous surroundings, today’s route is very relaxed, tracing a pleasant valley on well-paved bike paths and passing Swiss chalets, manicured gardens and postcard-perfect ponds.

At Le Bouveret, just before the river pours into Lake Geneva, your route gently bends right onto the Rhône bridge. Here, you ride into the shaded wetlands of Les Grangettes. This peaceful nature reserve hosts a profusion of biodiversity, including many migratory birds. This morning’s pleasant spin ends at the southern tip of Lake Geneva in Villeneuve, or New Town, which in fact boasts a charming Old Town of cobbled streets and inviting cafés – the ideal place for lunch on your own. After, you cycle or shuttle to Vevey.

If you choose to ride, follow a rolling lakeside route, passing the historic Chillon Castle and Montreux on the way. You might pause in this popular resort town on Lake Geneva to admire elegant villas and lovely gardens – and to stop at Place du Marché, where a statue of Freddie Mercury gazes out over the lake. Once you arrive in Vevey, browse cobbled lanes as the sweet scent of chocolate wafts from the numerous confectionary shops. Then continue by shuttle into France and the picturesque village of Talloires, hugging the shores of scenic Lake Annecy. Settle in to your hotel here, a hidden gem away from the crowds and set beautifully on the water with magnificent views of the Massif des Bauges to the west and La Tournette and Col de Forclaz to the east. The sublime Saint Germain abbey and chapel perches high above on a distant hillside.

Dinner is at the elegant hotel restaurant, a delicious meal of French specialties.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 29.5 to 41.5 km (18 to 25.5 miles)
Morning
Lavey to Villeneuve: 29.5 km (18 miles)
Villeneuve to Vevey moderate: 12 km (7.5 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride is easy and mostly follows a bike path until Villeneuve. Two miles are on unpaved terrain. When the weather is good, a mid-morning to evening headwind blows up the valley and can slow down the ride. From Villeneuve to Montreux, the route is a bike lane on a regularly trafficked rolling road. From Montreux to Vevey offers easy riding on a scenic bike path along Lake Geneva.

Accommodation: Cottage Bise, Talloires (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast begin your ride by cycling south from your hotel in the Haute-Savoie region. Your focus is the breathtaking Lake Annecy – Europe’s cleanest lake thanks to protection measures enacted in the 1960s – and its namesake city. Your loop follows a well-paved bike path past the staggering sheer cliffs of the Bauges Mountains that seem to surge dramatically out of the waters. Keep your eyes out, too, for the Château de Duingt, perched on a tiny islet linked to the mainland by a causeway. It is not open to visitors, but worth a photo stop.

As you approach the city of Annecy, follow the sign to the Paccard Bell Foundry if you wish. Over seven generations, this family business has cast more than 120,000 bells for institutions all over the world, including the bells that ring out from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In 1950 and 1951, it cast 57 replicas of the Liberty Bell and distributed one to each of the then 48 US states as tributes to the American role in the liberation of Europe during World War II. The largest bell they’ve made is the 66,000-pound World Peace Bell, which hangs in Newport, Kentucky. It rings every day at 12:05 p.m. so as not to drown out the city’s other noontime bells.

Later, arrive in historic Annecy, called the “Pearl of the French Alps” for its stunning setting between mountains and lakes. There’ll be time to explore its pedestrian streets lined with charming canals, bridges and archways that might bring Venice to mind. The Old Town is full of unique charms and historic buildings. Admire the Palais de l’Isle, a 12th-century prison on an islet in the River Thiou, the Château d’Annecy, the 16th-century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre and the Pont des Amours, the Lover’s Bridge. Savor lunch on your own in an inviting café, perhaps watching swans glide on the river, and enjoy a crème glacée – locally made ice cream – for dessert.

Shuttle back to the hotel, or join today’s longer option that completes a circumference around the lake. Pass a popular lake beach, perhaps dipping your toes in the crystal-clear water, and several lakeside villages steeped in charm. In the distance, catch sight of the Aravis Mountains, famous for the hairpin turns and steep bends featured on the Tour de France.

Later, relax at the swimming pool, take a dip in the lake, enjoy a drink at the Boat Bar or treat yourself to the hotel spa. Tonight, stroll into historic Talloires for dinner on your own. You might try a fondue or Raclette with the famous quality cheeses of Haute-Savoie and match it with a local wine, like Chignin or Apremont.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 27 to 38 km (17 to 24 miles)
Morning
Talloires to Annecy: 27 km (17 miles)
Afternoon
Annecy to Talloires: 11 km (7 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride follows a well paved road and bike path. There is an initial steep downhill soon after Talloires, then it is all flat to Annecy. The area, especially before Annecy, is very popular and bikers may encounter skaters and walkers on the path. The afternoon ride is easy, but it can be bothered by the number of bikers. In the villages, attention must be paid to cars.

Accommodation: Cottage Bise, Talloires (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast

After a hearty French breakfast, say goodbye to your hosts and set out on one of the most beautiful rides of the region. Leaving the southern tip of Lake Annecy, you cycle along a quiet, smooth bike path as the Bauges Range rises up on one side and the Beaufortain soars on the other. In the Chaise River Valley, enjoy majestic views of the Faverges Castle with its red-roof cylindrical stone tower. The Col Tamie’ has the largest fort to have been built on the edge of the Alps by France, while gorges and caves in the distance tell that the region has been inhabited by man since the Neolithic Age.

After a slight climb at Ugine, you leave the Haute-Savoie and meet the Isère River, which you follow to Albertville and Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère. Gateway to some of the best international ski areas of the Alps, Albertville hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics. As you ride, keep your eyes open for the town’s colorful totem sporting colorful signs that point to the peaks and altitudes climbed by Tour de France riders! Your trip leaders guide you to a shaded meadow by a small scenic pond, the perfect spot for the picnic they’ve arranged. After lunch, continue cycling along a tranquil country road into fertile farmlands. Then shuttle into the rich wine-growing region of the Combe de Savoie.

You settle into your elegant French château, then visit the cellar and savor a wine tasting before a delicious dinner overseen by your gracious hosts. It’s the perfect end of a beautiful day and an ideal venue to sample the region’s finest wines.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 21.5 to 66 km (13 to 40.5 miles)
Morning
Talloires to Sainte-Hélène: 44.5 km (27.5 miles)
Afternoon
Sainte-Hélène to Aiton: 21.5km (13 miles)

What to Expect: With the exception of a short climb along a quiet and well-paved bike path, today’s ride is easy. The last stretch in the afternoon follows the sides of a mountain and is slightly rolling. All in all, it is a very enjoyable day of cycling.

Accommodation: Château des Comtes de Challes, Challes-les-Eaux (France)
Alternate Hotel: Château de Candie, Chambéry, France
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today promises another ride into stunning cultural and natural beauty. You follow the course of the fast-flowing Leysse River, surrounded by hills and mountains, into picturesque Chambéry, boasting a rich history as the capital of the Kingdom of Savoy from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The Château des Ducs de Savoie still dominates the cityscape, nestled in a maze of medieval alleyways in the city center. You pause for lunch on your own here, taking time to also admire the 15th- and 16th-century estates along the shop-lined rue Croix-d’Or.

Cycle out of Chambéry along an easy and scenic bike path, meandering through pretty parks and bucolic valleys. As you ride, you skirt the base of Mont de Nivolet; the 72-foot white cross watching over you from above can only be reached by foot and is linked to a local legend. Your scenic route past the soaring rock walls of the Bauges Massif delivers you to the shores of the popular Lake du Bourget, France’s largest and deepest natural glacial lake. Avid riders can continue to the resort and former spa town of Aix-les-Bains, with a history dating back to the Roman Empire.

Your return ride follows much of the same route, veering away to take in some of the sleepy villages of the valley. As you ride, you have views of the distant Tarantaise peaks, some reaching more than 11,000 feet. The Col du Galibier in the sunny Maurienne valley with its 8,681 feet ranks with the Col de l’Iseran as one of the highest mountain passes in France. There stands a monument to Henri Desgranges, who initiated the Tour de France cycle race in 1903. Epic climbs are sure come to mind as you experience a bit of the captivating cycling of the Alps without the hills.

Back at your château, there’ll be time to relax by the swimming pool and prepare for a final festive dinner featuring French specialties of the region.

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 10 to 45.5 km (6 to 28 miles)
Morning
Challes to Lake Bourget to Chambéry: 35.5 km (22 miles)
Afternoon
Chambéry to Challes: 10 km (6 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s ride follows an easy bike path along the Leysse River through shaded parks into the historic center of Chambéry. The route cuts through an industrial area north of town, then leads to the shores of Lake du Bouget. It loops back partly on the same route, partly on a slightly rolling route through sleepy villages.

Accommodation: Château des Comtes de Challes, Challes-les-Eaux (France)
Alternate Hotel: Château de Candie, Chambéry, France
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, transfer to the Hotel Carlton Lyon MGallery by Sofitel in Lyon, arriving at approximately 10:30 a.m. Your vacation ends here. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from Metro Bellecour station, from where you can travel to the Lyon railway stations and Lyon’s St. Exupery airport.

Important: Flight departures from Lyon prior to 2:30 p.m. are not recommended; those departing earlier must make transfer arrangements at their own expense from the last hotel in Chambéry/Challes-les-Eaux (approximately1 ½ hours).

Accommodation: Hotel Carlton Lyon MGallery by Sofitel, Lyon (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With Low-Cost Trip Extensions

Airplane

Air Package Only

2021

2021 Pre-Trip Extension - Chamonix

2 Nights From $195 per person, double occupancy
Single Supplement: From $145

  • 2 nights at Hotel Le Morgane or Hotel Le Refuge des Aiglons
  • Daily breakfast
  • VBT City Information
  • Airport transfers

Depart home for Switzerland. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Upon arrival at Geneva International Airport, a representative holding a VBT sign meets you as you exit the baggage-claim area. Please note that there may be an additional wait time if there are other guests arriving within the same time frame. A transfer is provided to your Chamonix hotel, an approximate 1 ½ hour drive. The remainder of the day is at your leisure (no meals are included).

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our representative know by calling or sending a text message to +33 (6) 16 56 05 71. Our drivers are generally able to wait for up to one hour from the time your flight lands, after which you would be responsible for your own transfer. You may also contact Allianz Global Assistance to advise of your delay and they will contact our transfer service.

Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 4:00 p.m., in which case you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

VBT provides City Information with recommendations of what to see and do during your stay.

Accommodation: Hotel Le Morgane, Chamonix, France
Alternate Hotel: Hotel Le Refuge des Aiglons, Chamonix, France

Explore charming Chamonix with the help of your VBT City Information. This small city is lively all year round, though it is celebrated as the first city to host the Winter Olympics, in 1924. You’ll no doubt want to head into the mountains for staggering vistas and some exercise. Take an aerial tramway to the top of any number of peaks and hike down. Or ascend the Aiguille du Midi and experience the thrill of stepping onto a glass-floor skywalk, with sheer vertical views down 3,400 feet. Alternately, visit the Alpine Museum to learn about the region’s geologic and human history, and make sure to leave time for relaxing at a charming café or restaurant surrounded by spectacular views.

Accommodation: Hotel Le Morgane, Chamonix, France
Alternate Hotel: Hotel Le Refuge des Aiglons, Chamonix, France
Included Meals: Breakfast

Continue exploring Chamonix. A free public bus delivers you to the nearby traditional mountain village of Les Houches, where dreamy strolls lead you into charming hamlets and past alpine farms. In Chamonix, take the easy walk along the Arve River, fed by the many glaciers of the Chamonix Valley. Here, the Promenade du Fori leads into the outskirts of town to the spa of QC Terme Chamonix. At this indoor wellness facility, indulge in some soaks and treatments in the salt room, bio-saunas, steam baths and open-air heated pools amidst a breathtaking alpine setting. You’ll want to reserve in advance and plan to eat in the cafeteria if you have time.

VBT Air Package guests arrive throughout the day.

Accommodation: Hotel Le Morgane, Chamonix, France
Alternate Hotel: Le Refuge des Aiglons, Chamonix, France
Included Meals: Breakfast

Airplane

Air Package Only

2021

2021 Post-Trip Extension - Lyon

2 Nights From $295 per person, double occupancy
Single Supplement: From $245

  • 2 nights at the Hotel Carlton Lyon MGallery
  • Daily breakfast
  • City Information
  • Airport transfers

On the Presqu’île, visit the Palais de Justice and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which houses one of France’s largest art collections. Indulge in exhibits of Egyptian art, sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages and masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Picasso and many others.

For dinner, there are endless options, brasseries or Michelin-starred establishments.

Accommodation: MGallery Carlton, Lyon (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast

Take another day to discover Lyon. You may wish to explore la colline qui travaille, or the working hill, of Croix-Rousse, a quarter known for its long association with the silk industry. Admire the walls of the canuts (silk workers) by the Boulevard des Canuts and the rue Denfert Rochereau. Visit the Soierie Vivante lace-making workshop, witnessing weaving techniques at Maison des Canuts, or see painting demonstrations on velvet fabric at Atelier de Soierie.

After a leisurely lunch of traditional Lyonnaise cuisine in one of the city’s countless bouchons – intimate eateries where the food is simple and honest and the neighborhood conversation is lively – you might rent a Vélo’V bike and ride along the Rhône River to the point where it meets the Saône, a rewarding way to explore the city.

Accommodation: MGallery Carlton, Lyon (France)
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast*, transfer to the Lyon airport for your flight home. VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your Transfer Reminder. The transfer is prearranged with the reception desk and is prepaid by VBT**.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Included Meals: Breakfast

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Dates & Prices

Bike Vacation + Air Package

10 days, includes round-trip international airfare , airport shuttle, and additional hotel nights with included breakfast.

Single Supplement: From $745

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